Not long after Jake died I found solace in very few things but there one thing that offered some relief for the pain – worship and praise. I was married to a worship leader but never really “got it” until Jake died. Brad could spend hours just playing his guitar and singing to the Lord and I would often shake my head in wonder at the time and energy he spent playing that guitar. It was like I was an outsider looking in – I couldn’t hold a tune and so I just quietly sang during our church worship time, waiting on the sermon to start. Then my world was rocked to the core and worship (I am defining the singing to the Lord as worship here – I know there are many forms of worship) became my lifeline. When I had no words to say to the Lord, the songs gave me a voice. Suddenly, the nights of Brad playing guitar became more than just an activity he did. It became our voice in a silent and crumbling world.I watched as Brad processed his grief through music and knew that I had previously missed something that he got. I wanted what he had – there was a release he had found that I knew I needed. Brad introduced me to the sacrifice of worship. What started as an uncomfortable lifting of my hands turned into a freedom to raise my hands to the One who was seeing us through. What started out as a sacrifice to sing through the tears became a sweet release of emotions that left me feeling full inside. What started out as the beginning of a service became some of the sweetest times in my life. Brad taught me the gift of worshipping God through song.
This weekend, Brad was asked to lead worship for a worship night for a local church in town. I was excited to go with him. We drove through an older neighborhood that looked like it belonged in the historical district. We pulled into a tree-lined parking lot to a house that had been turned into a church. We walked into an open foyer and a large room filled with chairs. It was warm and inviting like a fire lit living room, the lights were dim and candles lit the stage.
Brad stood there with just a guitar and a mic and he led us in worship to the Lord. It was a small group but loud, worshipping voices were heard over the guitar, there was a quiet desperation for God to show up. There was the feeling that we would not leave till our hearts had poured out the muddy waters and been filled with His Living Water. Brad shared a verse that if I have heard before I don’t remember: It spoke directly to my heart: “That is what the Lord says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief but tear your hearts instead.”Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate,slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.” (Joel 2: 12-13). And then we sang this song that Brad had written years ago:
There’s no room for them here, All these things I hold dear
Father, take them; Lord, replace them
I can’t keep this inside, Lord, I’ve nowhere to hide
Father, take them; come replace them
Be the king on the throne, Be the Lord all alone
In my heart, in my heart
Come to rule and to reign,Jesus, have Your own way
In my heart, in my heart
Till there’s nothing there but You…be the king of my heart
I left that night full of Jesus. I left having surrendered things in worship that were not of him. I left with Him as King of my Heart. I left having spent a few hours on a Saturday night renewing my spirit with His Spirit. I left thankful for my husband, for all the nights he stays up for hours singing and playing his guitar. I left thankful that leading worship isn’t just my husband’s job, it is his life. It is who he is – a worshipper. I left thankful I learned from him something that has forever changed me and my relationship with the Lord. I left knowing that the same act of worship that healed me through the death of Jake, would heal me through the mundane chores of the day. I left realizing that I needed to take the same amount of time in worship of Him today as I did the weeks after Jake died. I left knowing that worship was more than just some songs to sing – worship was tool to survival in this life.